The Final Frontier is all about exploration! Or at least, that’s what we all want to believe. But just as often, you run into a bit of a mess by offending new people, not knowing the rules, breaking a few laws, and that’s when… the captain of a starship appoints himself as your lawyer?
No one is bothered by that, huh?
Over on Reddit, queenofmoons made a fair point about the Star Trek universe: Why doesn’t Starfleet put lawyers on starships? Not even one?
It’s not as though they don’t exist in the future; in fact, we do encounter them throughout the run of the Trekverse. But even though starships contain all sorts of experts and scholars and professionals, lawyers never seem to show up on the docket. And when you’re encountering new species with new systems of law on a regular basis, you’d think that would be kind of important, even from a liability standpoint. As queenofmoons puts it:
Even when we do see someone execute a feat of reasonable legal cunning—Picard buying time from the Sheliak, for instance—the fact remains that on a ship of a thousand people, expected to make first contact with new governments with little support, preparing for a legal challenge should not be whatever the busy ship’s captain and its senior mental health professional can whip up on the fly, but a recurring eventuality to prepare for.
Sure, some of this is simply down to who the show wants to spotlight—Trek shows are about their crews, and unless you’re planning to make the starship lawyer a regular in the cast, fans aren’t going to be as interested in watching them argue cases. But shouldn’t there be enough for them to do? It’s amazing watching Picard and Riker go up against each other in “Measure of a Man,” but that doesn’t change the fact that the two of them should never have needed to create this spectacle in the first place. Picard and Riker are both military guys, and their outlying interests don’t have anything to do with law, though Picard’s love of anthropology and archaeology has a few ties in that regard.
Could it have more to do with our societal assumptions about, and aversion to, attorneys? queenofmoons thinks that could be a piece of the problem:
It might just be that, well, lawyers are often perceived to be slimy, and as such simply had no place in a future that didn’t even have a use for money, and where people where abundantly honest.
Could that really be it? A future utopian society should have no room for lawyers? It seems silly, knowing that there are plenty of lying folks in the history of Trek, and plenty of situations where having lawyers around could have been infinitely helpful. And nevermind the starships… what about space stations like Deep Space Nine? Shouldn’t they have someone on staff to adjudicate?
Check out the Reddit thread over here!